Veterinary Medical Experiment Station (VMES)
The Veterinary Medical Experiment Station (VMES) was established as a budgetary entity by the state legislature in July 1976 following approval by the University of Georgia Board of Regents in 1973.
The VMES Mission
The VMES Mission is to conduct research and provide scientific training focused on the improvement of animal and human health, and, the elimination of animal diseases affecting the citizens of Georgia and Georgia’s livestock and poultry industries.
VMES Research Objectives
- improve the health and productivity of domestic livestock, poultry, fish, and other income-producing animals and wildlife through research;
- assist in preventing disease epidemics by providing laboratory resources and highly skilled scientific personnel;
- assist in protecting human health through the control of animal diseases transmissible to man;
- improve the health of companion animals, which serve to enrich the lives of humankind;
- train new scientists in animal health research in order to provide continuity and growth in this vital area of veterinary medicine.
VMES Research is focused on food animal diseases because of their importance to Georgia’s economy and health of its citizens. High quality human nutrition continues to be a fundamental goal of Georgia’s animal-oriented agribusiness leaders. Animal proteins provide essential amino acids either deficient or absent in commonly-consumed plant proteins. In many situations, energy conservation is best accomplished through reliance on farm animals that convert plant materials into food that would otherwise be unavailable for use by humans. Research conducted by the Veterinary Medical Experiment Station ultimately aids in providing the consumer with disease-free animal-based food devoid of potentially harmful drugs, pesticides, and environmental contaminants.
The VMES research facilities and personnel are integrated with those of the College of Veterinary Medicine, in Athens, and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, located in Athens and Tifton. The staff at these facilities are dedicated to solving animal disease problems by providing ready-access to assistance within the state. These resources are capable of quick mobilization to deal with emergency animal disease problems on a large scale that can result from accidental contamination of the food chain or from the introduction of foreign animal diseases. Both routes carry the potential for the devastation of Georgia’s valuable livestock industry. Over 150 diseases (zoonoses) are naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to man. When these diseases affect man, concerns for human well-being are accompanied by economic problems such as the cost of medical care and work-time losses. Prevention, control and eradication of zoonoses are high priorities of the VMES.
To a lesser extent, the VMES also conducts research on diseases of importance to companion animals. The number of companion animals (primarily dogs, cats, and horses) is increasing in Georgia. Pet ownership supports a multibillion-dollar industry, with income related to sales being small relative to expenditures for maintenance and health care. Of at least equal importance is the enriching effect of these animals on the lives of their owners – an effect invaluable in terms of dollars.
How VMES Research is conducted?
VMES research is conducted through funding provided by a number of sources. Since VMES is an integral part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, many research expenditures are covered partially by the VMES budget and in part by the College’s resident instruction budget (primarily salaries). Research is also supported by federal, state, and commercial grants and contracts. Budgets for VMES research projects are on file in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and expenditures are made in accordance with these budgets and standard University of Georgia fiscal policies.
Station researchers are, with a few exceptions, faculty members of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Many have a DVM degree, and most also have PhD degrees. Each researcher has a fixed percentage of time assigned to research, teaching, service and/or administration. The percentage of effort (equivalent faculty time, or EFT) for research varies from 10% to 100%, with a mean value of about 30%. A 20% EFT equates to spending one working day each week on research. Nevertheless, involvement in research often far exceeds the assigned EFT as reflected by laboratory night work and weekend research report writing. Furthermore, VMES researchers are committed to doing the job well, and only results, not hours spent, counts in scientific research. VMES researchers strive to translate results into disease problem solutions as soon as possible.